City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A fantastic start to this series! I listened to this book and, I'm sorry, but the reader was terrible. If you're reading this, and you're thinking about trying this book on audio, DO NOT DO IT! Just...don't. The reader switches for books 2 and 3, so read book 1, and then try the audio.
That being said, as bad as the reader was, the writing made me endure it because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. I know it is classified as Teen or YA fiction, but that seemed like a very fine distinction to me. The teens are the stars of the show, yes, but the writing doesn't seem necessarily YA unless it is where we don't see a lot of cursing (it is done, just not spelled out) or sex. There is PLENTY of violence, though. Enough of it, and written well enough to rival any adult urban fantasy novel.
There are a lot of comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I don't get. Yes, there are teens fighting demons. I get that. There is a lot of banter between the characters, and that also happened in Buffy. But, that happens in a lot of other places as well. The banter, and the rest of the dialogue, is sharp and, sometimes, almost too cerebral. Whedon didn't invent that with Buffy, so to say that Clare is copying him is kind of silly. Maybe they're all copying John Hughes, even though he probably copied it from someone too. It is wonderful when it is done right, and Clare seems to have a very good handle on it.
Her characters are very individualized, you can tell who is speaking not only by cues, but also by what they say and how they say it. Her characters don't start to sound like someone else, they keep their individuality throughout the book. There was one part, towards the end, where I thought "would they really do that...." but that was the only time I was pulled out of the story.
Clary Fray didn't make me crazy, as I suspected she might when I heard the words YA fiction. She was more rational than many heroines of adult novels, to be quite honest. All of her actions, and reactions, seemed appropriate, nothing seemed forced. There were times when I wanted to shake her, of course, but even then I could completely understand why she was acting the way she did. And, when confronted with a truth, she reacted with reason and then acted reasonably. And, at the end, she used good sense to anchor herself and see truth, and to help others see it as well, even with tempting distractions. (I know that won't make sense to people who haven't read the book...)
The plot was fantastic. It never lagged. There wasn't any "filler" scenes, but everything was laid out exactly as it needed to be. Whoever edited this book did a fantastic job and I commend them. It didn't end so much as stop....and I'm assuming book 2 picks up from there. If you're looking for things tied up in a nice bow, you won't get that here. This is book 1 of a series. But, if you're looking for a fantastic fantasy/urban fantasy/ novel, pick up this series!
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